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How Do I Protect My Content with a Copyright Notice? by @CircleLegal

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Photo Credit: opensourceway via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: opensourceway via Compfight cc

by Kelley Keller

You’ve launched your website, written a blog post, published an ebook, or recorded a podcast and you want to make sure no one steals it. You’ve spent a lot of time creating content that will be useful to your audience and help you build your brand and business. You need to protect it!

The first step to protecting your original work is by identifying it as your intellectual property. That requires using a copyright notice that publicly communicates your ownership of that content.

How to Write a Copyright Notice the Right Way

A copyright notice must include three key elements to appropriately notify the public that you own your original work (e.g., your website content, blog post, ebook, podcast, video, etc.):

1. The copyright symbol

The copyright symbol (i.e., the C in a circle) goes first. If you’d prefer, you can begin your notice with “Copyright” or “Copr.” rather than using the copyright symbol.

2. Date

The year of first publication of the original work comes second in the copyright notice. In copyright law, “first publication” is the date when the original work was first offered for public distribution through sale (e.g., selling your ebook through Amazon) or for the purpose of further distribution (e.g., publishing your ebook on your website and making it available for visitors to download, read, and share).

3. Owner

Last, include the name of the copyright owner in your copyright notice.


Example

Here is an example of a complete copyright notice using the copyright symbol:

© 2014 Kelley Keller


No, You Can’t Copyright That

Remember, you cannot copyright ideas. You can only copyright your original work (which means it must be created entirely by you) once it has been “fixed in a tangible medium.”

That simply means it can’t be copyrighted if it’s in your head. It must have a physical form. In other words, your idea for an ebook cannot be protected by copyright laws, but once you write the ebook, it can be.

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Keller Head ShotKelley Keller, Esq. is President of Circle Legal and a 20-year veteran of the intellectual property law field. As an intellectual property attorney, she has deep experience helping businesses of all sizes identify, manage, and protect their trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets, including many household brands like Toyota, Disney, and Verizon, which she worked with during her tenure at one of the largest IP law firms in Washington, D.C. At Circle Legal, she focuses on redesigning the legal experience for innovative companies, business owners, and their families by providing comprehensive services that build solid legal, insurance, finance, and tax foundations for her clients (their LIFT Foundations).

Kelley’s personable nature and ability to explain complex legal issues in simple terms set her apart from most attorneys. She is relentless in helping businesses, their owners, and their families mitigate risks and open the doors to new opportunities. You can hear her helping business owners every week on the Circle Legal Business Fix-It Show broadcasting on iHeartRadio.

You can find Kelley on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ and download her free ebook, 41 Steps to Start a Business and Build Wealth the Right Way.

2 Replies to “How Do I Protect My Content with a Copyright Notice? by @CircleLegal”

  1. Moira Blythe

    I’ve been working on a website for my brother’s business. I appreciate your advice on how to format the copyright notice, with the symbol, then the year, then the owner name. Do we need to have any kind of legal help to do this, or are we just able to do this ourselves?

    1. Kelley Keller[ Post Author ]

      Hi Moira! Thank you for your comment. You do not need legal help to use the copyright notice – it is perfectly appropriate to do it yourself!

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